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Science & NatureEnvironmentIdling and the bottom line

Idling and the bottom line

We are all feeling the current pinch at the pumps. This is therefore a good time to examine how smart driving practices -like driving slower and stopping idling – reduce your gas use and C02 emissions, making it easier on the planet and your wallet.

Why would a driver choose to leave their engine running while stationary? After all, it’s just using up gas while going nowhere. Two common reasons are actually based on myths.

Myth #1 More gas is used turning a vehicle off and on than is used if just left running. 

MYTH BUST: According to both Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy, idling longer than 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting the engine. So leaving your engine running wastes fuel and money, and contributes to climate change. Lose-lose.

Myth #2 In winter, a vehicle needs to idle to “warm up” before driving. 

MYTH BUST This is no longer true. Decades ago, most cars had carburetors and needed to be warm to accurately adjust the air to fuel ratio. But today, almost all vehicles have an electronic fuel injection system that maintains the correct air/fuel mixture regardless of the outside temperature. Not only does your car not need to idle to “warm-up”, it will actually heat up faster through driving, rather than idling, as long as you go easy for the first few minutes.

In addition, cold-weather idling can be harmful to a car’s engine. According to Stephen Ciatti, a mechanical engineer at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, “idling your car in the cold not only wastes fuel, but it’s also stripping oil from critical components that help your engine run, namely cylinders and pistons”. This means extra wear and tear on your engine, reducing its lifespan.

In summary, idling wastes fuel (and therefore money), heats your vehicle more slowly, and can actually damage the engine (costing more money).

So stop idling, let the kids breathe easy, and maybe use the money saved to take that special kid in your life out for a date. Wins all around.

Kelly Eydt is a concerned grandparent and volunteer with Climate Network Lanark – a grassroots organization that brings people together to take action on climate in Lanark County and Smiths Falls. If you have an idea that you want to get off the ground or would like to join their volunteer team, contact info@climatenetworklanark.ca. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram

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